Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"John Keel: Not An Authority On Anything"

A Review

Last night was one of those nights where I was physically tired around 10 PM and yet my mind was restless and for some unknown reason my mental state felt energized but had no particular task at hand to make use of this mixed bag of physiology.
Like many others do, I began roaming around the internet. Moving from subject to subject in a sort of autonomic trance, I came across this site which contains the notes, personal correspondences and other personal papers of John Keel. I spent what was probably about two hours going through this material, which, for me personally was an invaluable lesson in gaining a perspective on the man himself as well as the times in which he lived. It would be safe to say I came away with a new perspective on the present as well.
Writing a blog and writing for a living are of course, two entirely different universes and I was struck by the financial pressures he continually had to grapple with while pursuing the investigation and field work on reports that generally at that time fell into the category of Fortean events. Yet I was also struck by an open letter he wrote to those that he knew that were also investigating UFO reports in 1968 which heavily criticized the community and scene at that time for not cooperating with one another, the constant competition, the in fighting and the lack of any consistent methodology. This was nearly a half century ago.
It was then no surprise for me to discover and digest the many notes and paperwork Keel created in an attempt to grow and maintain a Fortean community in New York City, while despairing "the state of the art", if you will.
The day before I had sent off the last of a trilogy of essays I wrote that had begun with Keel's work and then branched into other associated areas in subsequent submissions, one of which delved into Jacques Vallees theories and so it was around midnight when I came across a photograph,  of Keel and Vallee sitting together, side by side. Imagine that collaboration had it taken place. The photograph appears at the top of this page and Vallee is to Keel's left hand side.
There was also a significant amount of correspondence between Ivan Sanderson and Keel going back and forth on a possible collaboration which Sanderson , in a very chatty way, seemed more enthusiastic about than Keel himself. I took note of this lost and potential book that never came about thatb gave pause to further reflection.
I began to subsequently think about the rarity of such collaborations and then my mind turned back to Keel's open letter of 1968 to his fellow lone wolf investigators and of course it occurred to me that not much has changed in a half century.
Several years ago I had gone through a wave of highly strange anomalous telephone messages and calls and so it was with great interest to read Keel's hand and type written notes that specially addressed this and was somewhat surprised that he viewed these as deliberate harassment, which at the face value of it struck me as somewhat paranoiac, but his context was different than my own.
There is a wealth of this kind of material on the site and I highly recommend not only these personal notes etc of Keel as first person accounts but I think it's also invaluable to gain a perspective of the field and it's tattered history which has always been not only against the grain but an uphill struggle.
Thank you Doug Skinner for the free access to this material as well as for your time and energy I imagine that was spent on this ongoing project..It is well worth your time as a reader to visit.


  1. Bruce, I also stumbled upon the Keel website by chance several years ago. It is fascinating to me how frequently one finds things not only on the internet, but also in our day to day lives. We are not even searching for anything in particular. It's like "it" finds us. What is going on? I feel as if these occurrences are more than accidental or random in nature. What is you're interpretation of this?

    1. James
      Well..we tend to organize information and information in of itself does this as well and I suppose its where the twain meets when we think we stumble upon this or that. Have you ever gone to Loren Coleman's Shadow Language site? It's subject relates to your question in terms of synchronicity although some of his examples are more cogent than others but it's interesting nonetheless. A good example of thinking outside the box regardless of what one thinks of the results.